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Learnings from a CEO: adapting to life in Covid

Everyday, business leaders face challenges, ranging from the photocopier running out of ink or paper at the most inconvenient moment, to the latest development of a new piece of technology that outmodes their proposition overnight. However, it is now imperative that leaders improvise, innovate adapt and do all they can to keep their businesses moving and (ideally) growing.

But what about when the world shuts down? Covid-19 is a new, contagious, and deadly virus that has impacted each continent forcing offices and shops to close. The planet’s population has been kept indoors and had their movements and interactions restricted for large parts of the year. This issue is playing out in real-time and for many business leaders it is an answer that inspires feelings of dread. I argue that It doesn’t have to. 

This is because, although just a few years old, my business, SEON, is not only surviving the pandemic, but we are expanding. In normal circumstances, businesses experiencing such growth would guard its secrets closely, but this is not the time to be withholding. Here, I’ll share some tips on how you too can forge success during the age of Covid. 

Time to adopt a digital mentality 

This means approaching each commercial move with digital in mind. Right now, when they can least afford the wasted capital and man-hours, companies are trudging through mundane, manual processes that can be automated in seconds. They’re racking up eye-watering international phone bills when they can switch to VoIP and make most of them for free. 

What’s more, they’re missing out on vital conversations because they’re not equipped with bespoke video-conferencing technology. This is money and hours spiralling down the great, corporate plughole at the worst possible time. 

Leaders must develop a ‘digital first’ mentality – every decision must be made through a digital lens from how they communicate with their customers, to how they process payments, to how they tackle fraud. Not only are there immediate gains to be made, but it is also one of the most potent ways of future-proofing a business for the road ahead, however inhospitable that road may look right now.

Sustainability over brand awareness every time

“If you strive for excellence, success will follow.” It is not clear exactly who this quote is attributed to but its meaning is not. Understandably, many businesses are focusing significant effort into promoting brand awareness to let the world know that, despite everything that’s going on, they’re still there. However, this often comes at the expense of both building a powerful narrative around the brand and of developing the product that sits behind it. 

It goes without saying that exposure is vital for business success, but if the product doesn’t justify the exposure then the effort can very much backfire. The pandemic has provided space for companies to shift their focus more towards product development and create a proposition that can outlast the crisis. 

If they can use this time to refine their offering so that it is genuinely transformative for their customers, word will start to spread organically. This is vital as by being focussed on building a great product then its effectiveness will speak volumes. My advice is build the narrative, develop the product then the headlines will follow.

Be more open and transparent

This is easier said than done as during times of hardship, businesses are prone to closing ranks and directing their energies into consolidating their position. However, what makes Covid unique is that it is touching everybody around the world in some way. 

This presents businesses with an opportunity as they have the chance to reach out and help ease the pressures their customers and stakeholders are facing. By creating content that educates and supports, and by reviewing pricing structures so that they are clear and consistent, companies can cultivate new bonds of trust. 

Why is this important? The businesses that position themselves as a friend, one that carries no hidden motive beyond the hope that their efforts are appreciated, will find an audience that is more amenable to their message as we move forwards. This is a vital part of our mission to differentiate from other providers in our sector. We enable prospects to compare our tool against competitor solutions in the buying process to ensure they get the best fraud prevention tool for their needs. 

It may seem some time away but the COVID-19 pandemic will end. With more news about vaccines and their effectiveness hitting the headlines each week, it may be sooner than we think. However, when it does arrive, people will remember those businesses that extended their hand and they’ll remember those that didn’t. 

Now is the time to be flexible

In the digital age, a willingness and ability to be flexible is important. In the digital pandemic age, it is critical. 

Many businesses which have experienced a decline in inbound transactions assume their customer-base are simply making cutbacks and are thus more hesitant to spend. Though this will be true in some cases, it is not true in all. As restrictions are placed on people’s movements and behaviours, business processes established to align with the ‘old normal’ begin to conflict with the ‘new normal’. Business leaders must reimagine how their products can be accessed by customers and how their communications and business model facilitates this. 

Simple actions such as replacing 12-month subscriptions with monthly rolling contracts or opening up just part of a service based on a customer’s specific needs can reignite interest and interaction. Plenty of customers will still want to access your product, they’ll just want to access it differently. The challenge is to accommodate this.

Although there are no guaranteed quick fixes, businesses can start making strategic alterations to processes, practices, and mindsets – as outlined here – then compelling results can follow. You can come out of the other side of this, and stronger. 

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Tamas Kadar

Tamas Kadar

Founder and CEO

SEON

Member since

29 May 2020

Location

London

Blog posts

5

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Fintech innovation and startups

Disruption, destruction, harmony and creation; Fintech’s new frontier – a place to discuss the cutting edge of innovation.


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